Here is a synopsis of the Hear My Train A Comin Panel Discussion which I was a participant.
The panel Discussion/Presentations took place on Sat 11/25/2000 in the Pratt Free Library Auditorium in Baltimore Maryland as a portion of the much larger 4 day celebration of the birthday of Jimi Hendrix called SUITE PURPLE
It feels kinda funny reporting about an event in which I was a participant in, but I'll give it a shot.
Over the summer I was approached by Baltimore radio personality Heru-Ka about potentially being a participant in the celebration. He had visited the www.Soul-Patrol.com web pages about Jimi Hendrix and thought that I might be interested.
I immediately said yes :)
At first I figured that this was going to be a no brainier, since I have been writing extensively about Jimi Hendrix for a number of years now, I thought that I would just create a "mini version" of the 21 web pages on the
site on Hendrix and simply talk about Hendrix from a "Black Perspective".
As summer turned into fall, I maintained a correspondence with Heru-ka via email and over the telephone. In October Heru-ka said that the preparations for the event were just about finalized and said that he needed an outline of my presentation.
I told him that it was going to be "kinda like the website", and then he informed me that ALL of the other presenters would be Black and that he had to make sure that we weren't all going to discuss the same topic.
He also told me that in addition to himself that Cordell Dickerson, Rod Daniels (two noted Hendrix scholars) and David Henderson (author of "Scuse me While I Kiss The Sky and the ONLY Black man who has written one of the over SIXTY books on Jimi Hendrix) would also be on this panel.
Suddenly I felt VERY small and insignificant.
(So much for my bright ideas..lol)
I asked him to give me a couple of days to get a written outline to him and he agreed. Realizing that I in fact had NO TOPIC to discuss and that I was going to be part of a panel of HEAVYWEIGHTS, my brain went into overdrive.
Creating something fresh about an artist who has been dead for 30 years and who only produced 3 studio albums in his career has been an issue that I have struggled with many times over the past 5 years. I have found myself at times truly faced with absolutely nothing new to say about him. However each time that I sit down and force myself to think about Jimi Hendrix, just a little bit more, ideas begin to consume me and I come up with something.
One I come up with an idea, then it seems like the idea becomes all consuming and in fact, it feels like the spirit of Jimi Hendrix himself possesses me.
This time would prove to be no different!
Not only did I come up with a topic, but once I did I became obsessed with it.
I quickly put together an outline, emailed it off and was good to go. The target audience for the website entitled "The Jimi Hendrix BLACK Experience" was Black teenagers.
The topic I finally decided on was "Jimi Hendrix and The Future"
When I arrived in Baltimore on Saturday November 25th I walked around the general area of the library to get a feel for the area and I noticed that there were posters on telephone poles in the area, advertising the Panel Discussion (and the posters had my name on them). I felt about 10 feet tall...LOL
Once I got inside, little did I know that one of the most rewarding experiences of my life was about to occur..
As soon as I stepped thru the door, there was Heru-ka standing on the stage. I introduced myself to him and we hugged.
It's ALWAYS a pleasure for me to meet someone whom I have only known from online and this was no different. It's evem a little extra special when meeting other Black Jimi Hendrix fans. There is an immediate bond as if we had know each other our entire lives.
He then introduced me to a woman named Judy Cooper, who is the main librarian for the Baltimore library system. She made sure that all of the Audio/Visual setup was in order
A few minutes later a tall brotha came in to the auditorium.
He walked over and introduced himself as Cordell Dickerson When I introduced myself to him, we hugged each other. Cordell and I have known each other for a number of years, in fact I appeared on his radio program last year as a guest during his Hendrix tribute show. However, we had never met in person and once again, it felt more like a homecoming than a first time meeting.
Then David Henderson walked in to the auditorium and I was in awe. I had read his book back in the 1980's. I quickly retrieved my tattered copy of "Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky" from my bag for him to autograph for me.
Now the scene was set, 4 Black men set to speak on a man that many folks considered to have been a "sellout", a "Uncle Tom" in the middle of a Black City, in it's largest public library, in an auditorium that appeared to have a crowd that was about 75% Black.
JIMI HENDRIX SURE WOULD HAVE DUG THIS SCENE :)
He came out first and said that he had some new information for us concerning the death of Jimi Hendrix that he wanted to share with us, but first he wanted to tell us a little bit about his background and how he came to write the book.
David Henderson is a native New Yorker (I knew that there was something that I liked about him...lol). He told us that during the mid - late 1960's he was a English Literature professor at the City College of New York. He had met Jimi Hendrix several times, hanging around in various clubs in NYC and had become friends with him, during the times of protests, drug experimentation and free love.
David Henderson said that he, Jimi Hendrix and many other people during this period were experimenting with illegal substances. He wasn't a drug addict, nor were his friends, and certainly Jimi Hendrix wasn't a drug addict.
Sometime during the early 1970's a publisher approached him about writing a book on Jimi Hendrix, a deal which he accepted and he threw himself into the writing of the book. The book took 5 years for him to complete and for him represented a labor of love about a man whose music he loved and whose vision he respected. He got to meet and spend time with Al Hendrix and many of the other cast of characters involved in the Hendrix story. Not surprisingly, Henderson said that he never made much money off of the book.
Not bitter, but simply a statement of fact.
David Henderson on the death of Jimi Hendrix:
(he gave a LOT more details about this but, this is the bottom line of what I came away with)
The Myth - Jimi Hendrix died of a drug overdose
The London Medical Examiner Said - Jimi Hendrix died of asphyxiation (probably from his own vomit)
The Speculation - Jimi Hendrix was killed by (take your pick) Drug Dealers, the US Government, the American Mafia, British Mobsters, the South African Government, a Jealous Husband, etc
The Societal Situation - Anti war movement, government concern about the potential influence of musical artists among young people, FBI/CIA Witchunts, Nixon's Enemies list, etc
Hendrix Situation - Jimi Hendrix himself was under a great deal of stress as a result of bad contracts, bad management, being over worked, etc. He had traveled to England to try to escape from some of the mounting business pressures on him
Monika Dannemann - claimed that she called Eric Burdon, when she noticed that Jimi Hendrix was unconscious and she was unable to revive him. She said that she didn't know what to do and she was afraid of a possible scandal. Burdon told her to call an ambulance, which she waited several hours to do
The Ambulance Driver - who came on the scene had no idea who Jimi Hendrix was, he was an older man in his 40's and had no knowledge of Pop musicians. He said that Hendrix was dead on the scene, fully clothed and based on his experience in dealing with such situations, that he had already been dead for quite a long time. He said that the body was covered in vomit and that there was a scarf tied tightly around his neck when he found the body. The ambulance driver said that apartment was empty when he got there
David Henderson clearly thinks that Jimi Hendrix was murdered.
After hearing his description of the events surrounding the death of Jimi Hendrix, so do I. It seems to me that perhaps Monika wasn't even at the apartment when she called Burdon nor was she at the apartment when she called the ambulance. It also seems to me that Hendrix was held against his will, had a large amount of red wine forced down his throat, started vomiting and was then strangled with the scarf. He was left to die a painful and horrible death, not by a model who was confused about what she should do, but instead by cold blooded killers who inflicted the maximum amount of pain on their victim as possible, and knew EXACTLY what they were doing.
Here is the outline of my presentation:
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD/VIEW THE MS POWERPOINT PRESENTATION FROM THE HEAR MY TRAIN A COMIN PANEL DISCUSSION IN BALTIMORE ON 11/25/2000
Jimi Hendrix and the Future.
By Bob Davis http://www.soul-patrol.com/
. Jimi Hendrix remains 30 years after his death, one of the biggest and most influential icons of the 20th Century
. It is currently thought that the demographic group where his influence is felt most strongly is among the millions of now aging "baby boomers" who were the original fans of his music
. If that is indeed the case then, his influence should die, just as soon as these "aging baby boomers do"?
. I would contend that this is NOT going to happen, because it is the IDEA of Jimi Hendrix that is far more important and far reaching than the PERSON of Jimi Hendrix
· Introduction, Bob Davis: www.Soul-Patrol.com
· The Marketing of Jimi Hendrix
· Jimi Hendrix BLACK Experience Web Site:
· Letter from a "fellow traveler"...
· Some Comments from the chat room.
· Another Letter.
· Jimi's Digin Cats.
· Rap Samples Hendrix.
· A methodology that we can give to younger people for approaching Jimi Hendrix
· Jimi's Musical Influence.
My PowerPoint presentation included graphics and music to illustrate the point of the continuing influence that Jimi Hendrix has on our society today.
I played the following cuts, as a part of the slide show
. "Jimmi's Diggin Cats" - Digable Planets
. "You Got Me Floating" - PM Dawn
. "Doriella DuFontaine" Jimi Hendrix/Lightning Rod
I think that the subject matter of my presentation was surprising to the audience. I don't think that they expected someone from a website called "Soul Patrol" to use rap music, email from younger Hendrix fans and a discussion about some of the current musical trends among younger people to make points about the continuing influence of Jimi Hendrix
Anyhow, it all worked and the audience gave me several ovations during the presentation
Time was running short, so Cordell cut short his presentation and discussed some of the details of his up coming book which also includes an update on the events surrounding the death of Jimi Hendrix, including an interview with a prominent American Medical Examiner.
Cordell's book also includes a rather detailed study of the connections between the music of Jimi Hendrix and the African traditions, details about new musical instruments that Jimi Hendrix had invented and more.
Cordell's time was cut short so that we could begin the panel discussion
The panel discussion featured an intense question and answer session between the panel and the audience..
We discussed topics such as:
. Jimi's influence on music around the world
. Jimi's childhood
. Experience Hendrix
. Alan Douglas
. Jimi & the Chitlin Circuit
. Band of Gypsy's
. And more
All and all the day was a success for the organizers
Big props to Heru-ka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On a personal note, the vibe was incredible and it was truly a wonderful experience. The media would have us believe that few Blacks if any, dug Hendrix.
Well I am here to tell you all, once again, those people are DEAD WRONG.
After it was all over with, I hugged a LOT of people and made some new friends.
People I had never met before.
We all had one thing in common
We all loved the music of Jimi Hendrix, but more importantly, we all love his spirit and carry it with us.
That spirit permeated the auditorium, just as if there was a cloud of "purple haze" that had consumed the room